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The Vizsla in Canada

2008 was an anniversary year for Vizslas in Canada as it was 50 years ago that the Smooth coat was recognized and 30 years ago that the Wire-haired was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club.

THE SMOOTH VIZSLA

In Canada, the first three Vizslas were brought in by Mr. Ben Jones of St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955.  A sportsman from Hamilton, Ontario, Ed McCoy, had one of the first Vizslas, Gay V Schloss Loosdorf, registered in the Field Dog Stud Book in 1953. His activity in the field generated interest in the Vizsla and solidly established it in south-western Ontario. It was a gentleman from Quebec named A.G. Gerle (Puszta Kennels Reg'd), however, who successfully had the breed recognized by the CKC in 1958, an event which pre-dates American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition. Mr. Gerle's dogs, Agres Z Povazia (male) and Lyska Z Tattier (female), imported from Czechoslovakia, were the first two Vizslas to be shown as a recognized breed in North America on April 27, 1958 at Ladies Kennel Club Show in Montreal, Quebec under JudgeRobert McCandless of New Yor, NY.  Mr. Gerle's Vizsla, CH. Agres Z Povazia, became the first Vizsla to take Best of Breed and was also the first Canadian show champion on record. CH Lyska Z Tattier became the second bench champion on record.

The first Vizsla to earn a Companion Dog (CD) title was Kedves V Hunt bred by Joan Hunt and owned by Magaret H. Meminger. Her title was earned by her owners in 1961.

Only one Canadian bred/owned dog has ever taken the prestigious Best of Breed at a Vizsla Club of America national specialty show: Can./Am. CH. Count Jonish Mignotte, owned by Elizabeth Mignotte of Exeter, Ontario in 1967.

The first Vizsla to earn the title of Agility Trial Champion of Canada (ATCHC) is Rusty Betyar, "Jake" owned by Barbara Anderson of Vernon, BC.  The title was earned in 1999.

THE WIREHAIRED VIZSLA

A Manitoba couple, Wes and Dorothy Basler, played a pivotal role in establishing the wire-haired Vizsla in Canada. They imported and bred wire-hairs for several years under their kennel name of "Gamefinder".   Wes's involvement with the Wirehairs didn't last very long however as we learn from some correspondence between Wes and Sandor Arany of Thornhill, ON approximately 18 years ago. Sandor, who is Hungarian, has imported several Wirehairs from Hungary over the decades and bred a few litters and so Wes was interested in contacting Sandor. From these letters, we learn something about Wes and his start with Vizslas.

"It was around 1964 that during my vacation we made a trip to Minnesota, and out of interest in these brown dogs that were being written up in the sporting magazines, we made a visit to a town called Grey Eagle, where we met an ex-sailor who was breeding the Vizsla who took us just outside of town to an old farm barn and opened the door. About 20 Vizslas came out with tails wagging and pleased to see us. Before we left, the lot of us had made up our minds to get some of these, and the next spring we went down again and came back with 2 pups [from Frank Engstom]. We had our first litter in 1966, and have kept that up ever since, except last year and perhaps this year. " Wes was 7 months away from his 80th birthday when he wrote this.

In his other letter to Sandor, he wrote, "Along the way I was contacted by an American Vizsla breeder who had several wirehairs and finally came to an arrangement for me to take the dogs and try to get them recognized in Canada (our rules at that time were for 5 or 6 dogs only). I got a male and female, bred them and applied to the CKC for recognition and registration. While waiting, I raised two more litters, found homes for them and then gave up and returned the parents to my friend in the USA. My first litter was born 30 May, 1972, 2nd on 10 Oct. 1973 and the last 30 July 1974. By that time I was ....completely fed up."

Wes's discouragement was due to the fact that it took six years to register the wirehairs with the CKC and few people were interested in them, making them hard to sell. "I practically gave them away", is what he wrote.  In contrast, the Baslers bred and raised over 200 smooth coats. One of them, CH Gamefinder Igezo Ispan, a male, was # 3 Vizsla (1975) in Conformation. "Bo" was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Tom Schollie of Winnipeg, MB and shown by their daughter Debbie.

Canadians have been quite active in field training and competitions. The first dog of any breed to acquire the CKC's Field Dog Excellent title was Vizsla CH. Cin Cillis Sasha FDX owned by Ray Rowan from Ontario. This dog was also the first Vizsla in Canada to earn a prize rating in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association's Utility Field Test.

Today, the smooth coated Vizsla enjoys far greater popularity in Canada than the wire-haired but interest in the wire-haired is slowly increasing.

Canadian Kennel Club records, "Official Section", Dogs in Canada magazine.

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